The Parenting Advice That Changed My Life

The Parenting Advice That Changed My Life

If you find parenting advice that alleviates stress, follow it. The Anxious Mother For a while, I managed a delicate balance between slight overprotectiveness and the desire to keep my child alive. What looked like common, everyday items before my son was born grew into menacing, dangerous agents of destruction and death. The couch was no longer a couch but a superhero launch pad. The kitchen drawers turned into finger pinching torture devices when he was pulling himself up to a standing position. The playground across from our house, barely viewable from the kitchen window, was surrounded by a pedestrian path of safety. Often, though, the neighbors liked to drive on it and unload their groceries with ease. Their convenience came at the cost of my child's safety. Like a passive-aggressive-slightly-overprotective mother might, I placed a note in everyone's mailbox alerting them to the fact that tiny children (often difficult to see when driving a car) frequently played at the central playground and that they couldn't...
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The Differences Between Then and Now: Reflections on Integration

The Differences Between Then and Now: Reflections on Integration

Over the past six years, we have become a murky blend of less-American-but-not-quite-Swedish. We've kept some of the old but mostly, we have embraced the new. The differences between January 2012 (back then) and January 2018 (now) are stark. Stark also conveniently translates into "strong" in Swedish. The changes in us are noticeable only when we take a moment and conduct a brief mental compare and contrast exercise. Otherwise, everything feels normal, as it should. Back then...and now... Back then, we kept our feet firmly on solid ground even when the lake froze over. We'd marvel at the bravery of those heading out on a skating expedition from Stockholm to Uppsala (80 km/50 miles). Now, we see people skating on the lake and hurry home to grab our skates. Once there, we are greeted by friends we know who warn us that two people have already fallen through the ice. Instead of leaving, we simply tell our kids to avoid the area with weak ice. I...
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Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Don't try to say "växtförsäljning" three times fast unless you are from a Scandinavian country or unless you want a tongue twister challenge.Växtförsäljning translates simply into "plant nursery" and our local nursery sells wonderful plants, bushes, and trees during the year and converts into a Yuletide haven during the third Advent weekend.This Christmas Market was the last in our Christmas Market Marathon and the kids were feeling the holiday fatigue. Too much Christmas cheer, perhaps? You know it's been a few long weeks in a row when the promise of warm waffles and pony rides stirs little excitement in this bunch.But they dug deep and somehow mustered the strength in their little bodies to hop on a cute pony and ride around a few laps.The restaurant/cafe on site at Växtförsäljning is one of those hidden gems that not many people know about in our sleepy town of Åkersberga. I know that because whenever I head there for a casual lunch...
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Länsmånsgården’s Christmas Market Review

Länsmånsgården’s Christmas Market Review

Continue to live vicariously through our journey to various Christmas Markets in our Swedish town and beyond. So far, we have traveled north to Sigtuna, and Gävle, and stayed closer to home to Wira Bruk, and now Länsmansgården. Länsmansgården is an old mid-18th century property featuring a manor and two-story cottage built in 1743. The historic buildings now house antiques and the main manor serves as a local art gallery, and the barn is now a cafe that serves up dynamite fika desserts and coffee with a cozy atmosphere to boot. Our kids love playing in the garden, which also houses school children's class projects as part of an "outdoor classroom." Different classes plant crops and see how they fare during the season. We love visiting Länsmansgården on a regular day and they always host cultural festivities during midsummer and Christmas. New additions from years past: a new Swedish fence surrounds the property, presumably to keep out the wild boar that destroyed Grade 4's...
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The Gävle Goat Survives

The Gävle Goat Survives

Gävle, Sweden is famous for this oversized straw goat. It's only famous because vandals burn it down every year much to the sadness of the townspeople of Gävle.Or are they really sad when the goat burns down? It is hard to tell, exactly, because on one hand, the goat is a main tourist attraction. On the other hand, they sang fire-related "burn it down" songs during the opening ceremony which left this tourist feeling a bit conflicted.So...do they want it burned down or not?My guess is, they want to keep the goat for as long as possible but it is somewhat of a foregone conclusion that the goat will eventually meet it's fiery fate.We traveled the two hours to Gävle and saw this big goat for ourselves. Frankly, it's not much to write home about. The town of Gävle itself is somewhat of a normal place, which means it's kind of boring.It's a place where people live and work—the only...
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Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Dragon Skulls, Fairies, and Trolls at Wira Bruk’s Christmas Market

Wira Bruk is an old iron works village that was active back in the heyday of Sweden's superpower era when they were cranking out weaponry as fast as they could. It's the site where the King's weapons (read: swords) and townspeople received tax credits for supplying Sweden with iron goods. Visiting Wira Bruk is like taking a stroll back in time and it is well worth a gander. But let's talk about their Christmas market, shall we? Wira Bruk has hosted a julmarknad (Christmas market) for the past three years during the first advent weekend. Be ready to be shocked by sights not usually seen at other Christmas markets. Have you ever seen a dragon's skull (that's surprisingly small)? A fairy skeleton (that's surprisingly big)? Or how about a 7" tall stone troll (that's surprisingly realistic)? No? Then get yourself over to Roslagen's Wira Bruk because they have them all on display. Part of me wondered if these installations were left up from Halloween but the...
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My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

Steninge Slott's Julmarknad is always a fun trip out to Sigtuna, Sweden. The Christmas market is housed in the stone barn behind the 17th Century palace and the interior is stunning. The vaulted ceilings of the barn give it an airy atmosphere and illuminated advent stars hang from the ceiling begging to go home with you. Our favorite purchases usually involve buying a paper sack of candied almonds and some warm glögg while we walk around the property among the tree-lined pathways. However, Steninge Slott's rustic charm is undergoing a bit of a renovation and the grounds are currently under construction with new housing development on the property. No longer do you feel like you are on a large estate property but now you feel a bit like you're intruding on people's backyard. Another change from years past is that Steninge Slott now sells furniture and home decorations year round. The inventory for this new business has pushed the crafts and local vendors who participate...
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Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

Visiting the Christmas Markets in Sweden

It is Christmas Market (Julmarknad) season in Europe and Sweden has some of the most darling Christmas markets. Glögg (mulled wine), reindeer meat, and candles on evergreen trees are all part and parcel of a good Swedish Christmas market.Kickstarting the Christmas spirit for me entails switching over to the Christmas carols on our Spotify playlist and piling into the car to our local Christmas markets.My kids love the idea of going for a pony ride, drinking warm chocolate, and possibly participating in a fiskdam (where they "fish" for a present and the fees for "fishing" go back into the local community.)I love finding handmade goods from small businesses and local artists. I absolutely love finding small handmade gifts that are perfect for stockings or adding a little flourish to our bookshelves. If you make a cute little elf or anything featuring a long Santa beard, I will probably buy it.This December, we are heading to a different Christmas market every weekend...
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Unmedicated and Unplanned Birth Story on Motherbirth’s Podcast

Unmedicated and Unplanned Birth Story on Motherbirth’s Podcast

I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Mellisa and Laura on Motherbirth's podcast and describing my somewhat unusual birth story that other women have also experienced with Hypnobabies (aff). It is incredible to think that more and more mothers will experience pain-free/comfortable births and it would be wonderful if that could become every woman's reality. Motherbirth is a great podcast series focusing on the remarkable birth stories of women around the world so be sure to check it out. Click here to listen to the story on Motherbirth (they did a great job editing it down!) http://www.motherbirth.co/podcast/2017/6/1/episode-025-pain-free-birth And if you're interested in buying the Hypnobabies program, click below at no extra cost to you and a small percentage to me because I'm essentially a living and breathing advertisement for these folks. If I can do it, I know that you can!   Virtual Midwifery One woman who is helping expat women around the world is Karen Wilmot, The Virtual Midwife. She is offering a course that is available here:     Read...
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Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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